May 152012

As someone who has waited with eager anticipation for Diablo III to finally be released after a 12 year wait, Diablo II was released in 2000), I knew there would be issues that would be a bit of a pain in the rear end.

Don’t misunderstand.  Diablo III is exactly what I’ve come to expect. It’s a dark, foreboding dungeon crawler with lots of click-smash-blood-bones-magic goodness, and the never-changing voice of Deckard Cain seems to offer solace and consistency as well as a reaffirmation that the Diablo franchise has returned. I played it for several hours, beating up on defiled and tormented enemies as blood and body parts went flying, corpses came up from the ground, and minions foolishly thought that they could take me down.

So, why am I here typing this latest post when I should be continuing my single player campaign to destroy the Lord of Terror? It’s because I can’t get into the single player game because Blizzard has followed suit with other companies, like Electronic Arts, to require players to have an always-on Internet connection in order to play it — even in single player! And guess what happened?  Their servers are getting so swamped that I got kicked out in the middle of playing my single player game.

I don’t understand what Blizzard is attempting to accomplish with this brazen stupidity. Is it to defeat piracy? I can guarantee that there are millions of people successfully playing the game right now who didn’t buy it. Is it because of their pay-to-win Auction House? What about those of us who couldn’t care less about it? Or what about something so novel and ingenious like making the Auction House unavailable until an Internet connection is established, but allowing the rest of the game to go on unhindered?

And as is typical with DRM, only the legitimate customer (in this case, me) is symbolically “harmed” by this.  The pirates are unaffected. Thanks to this insidious and nonsensical DRM (“draconian” has become so cliché even though it’s accurate), I – who just paid $60 for this game – am unable to play it because Battle.Net is having problems, even though there is no reason whatsoever to establish a Battle.Net connection for a game that I want to play by myself with no interest in the Auction House.

Why do we as gamers continue to put up with this? I didn’t pay $60 just to let the game sit unplayable  on my hard drive, and neither did the countless thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? millions?) who will at some point be affected by this pointless “always on” DRM requirement.

I’m sure that some will say “it’s just a game, so play something else”.  True as that statement might be, the frustration comes down to a more practical (and legal) reason that I am unable to use an item that I legally paid for. In just about any other kind of industry, such items could be returned and possibly subject to “lemon laws”.  Imagine if a GM car or truck could come to a screeching halt because it lost its connection to OnStar, leaving you abandoned because it couldn’t talk to its Big Brother central servers. Think of the rage if a TV would completely shut off because it lost the connection to your cable provider, preventing you from using it for anything else that a TV could be used for. No one would put up with such restrictions on physical items, so why do gamers continue to accept this idiotic practice from game publishers?

I understand that often games that are in high demand tend to crush a company’s servers, especially those games that lean heavily towards multiplayer and require the use of those servers.  A single player game, however, should have no such issues because there is no interactivity with anyone else going on.  In fact, single player games should not even be aware of the existence of an Internet except for perhaps a one-time authorization connection to validate the purchase.

My brief time with Diablo III has already made me very desiring for the upcoming Torchlight II from Runic Games which is being made by many of the people who brought us the original Diablo.  At least Torchlight II won’t require an Internet connection to play a single player game. That alone makes it superior in my eyes.